The Elf is the perfect holiday read. A Santa Claus retelling with Jack Frost and all! Read the excerpt and see how humorous it sounds! Also, don’t pass up the character Q&A. It’s hysterical. Enter to win a Visa gift card below, or don’t – so I can win it! 😉
Publication date: October 18th 2016
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult
Elves are dying in the North Pole, and none of their scientists can find a cure. They believe it’s a virus, unleashed by a powerful enemy. All signs point to Jack Frost, who’s been biding his time from afar. Watching. Waiting. Plotting. One brave elf, to save his kind, will venture out to meet evil in the eye. But he uncovers a mystery more dangerous than he could have ever imagined. Now Lucian must join a group of warriors and fight. Fuego; a flame-wielding pyro. Tiktok; a brilliant bomb expert, Yuriko; a deadly ninja assassin. And Bullets; a hot-headed gun aficionado. These unlikely heroes must learn to work together and defeat the rising evil. Or Christmas will soon be lost…forever.
My mouth waters the moment I enter the cafeteria. Rich aromas of fried meats and freshly baked pastries waft in the air, beckoning my empty belly. Zeb and I rush to the buffet-style line and wait for our turn. We arrived early today so it doesn’t take long. I serve myself the usual breakfast. Golden waffles topped with lots of strawberry jam and butter. And coffee. I can’t start my day without that sweet caffeinated elixir. I pour myself a jumbo-sized cup from the silver coffee dispensers, then take a quick gulp right there. I shudder in delight. “Man, that’s good.”
Zeb nods, sipping his coffee too. “Preach! It tastes better every day. I wonder what the secret ingredient is. Love? Sunshine? Unicorn blood?”
“Or just freshly ground Columbian beans?” I suggest.
Leaving the line, we scan the cafeteria for an empty table. In the distance, I spot her waving at us. Lily. The most beautiful girl in the world. Just the sight of her lifts my mood and makes my heart flutter. I wonder what it is about her that has such an effect on me. Her slender, willowy frame? The way her black hair cascades down over her shoulders? Or those dazzling emerald eyes? Yeah, it’s definitely that last one. It was those eyes of hers that first drew me to her, like deep lakes of jade. But it was her kind heart that really sealed the deal.
Sitting next to her is Chance. He’s another good friend of mine. He, along with Zeb and Lily, have worked hard to keep me from sinking further down into my depression. “Hey” we all chorus when we arrive at the table. I sit next to Lily and Zeb takes the seat next to Chance.
Lily gives me quick kiss on the cheek. “Good morning, handsome,” she says, prompting me to smile like an idiot in love.
“Morning,” I respond shyly.
Zeb makes a gagging noise while Chance chuckles.
“Ah, love is in the air,” Chance says.
Zeb frowns. “Chance, don’t encourage this. It’s nauseating.”
“Hey,” I warn. “Watch it or Lily might not help you with Pepper.”
Lily nods in amusement. “Mm-hmm.”
Panic spreads across Zeb’s face, then he smiles widely and lets his usual theatrics fly. “Wait, did I say nauseating? I meant to say precious. Look at you two! Here.” He whips out his cell phone and snaps our picture. Then he admires it lovingly, placing a hand over his chest. “Aww. #truelove #beautiful #nofilter.”
Zeb keeps lathering it on. “See, Lily, this…this could be my future with Pepper. Provided we stick to the plan. Which reminds me, have you talked to her yet?”
Lily offers an apologetic smile. “Not yet, sweetie. I haven’t seen her. She’s been working overtime.”
“Join the club,” Chance says. “By the way, Zeb, our department has to work an extra six hours Saturday. Mini-helicopters are in high demand this Christmas, I guess.” Chance doesn’t appear to be bothered by the news, though. Remember the optimistic gene I mentioned? Well, Chance has it in spades. Along with some of the best work ethics I’ve seen here.
“Oh my llama,” Zeb groans. “Sixteen hours?!”
I lift my Styrofoam cup. “Just drink more coffee. This will give you all the energy you need to get through your shift. Without it, I’d drop dead after an hour of chopping.”
Lily takes a more sensitive approach. “And think of the joy those kids will receive when they fly those helicopters you built. How their faces are going to absolutely light up! It’ll be worth it, Zeb.” I place my hand over hers, touched by her encouraging words, her selflessness. It just makes me love her even more.
Zeb, however, keeps a sourpuss face. It’s only when Gordy, our choir director, walks by that he switches into happy-mode and jumps up. “Greetings, Gordy! I was wondering if you’d received my volunteer application for the choir team. As well as the Christmas carols I submitted for your consideration. All songs are 100 percent original, written by yours truly, of course.”
Disdain registers across Gordy’s features—just for a split second—before being able to collect himself and plastering a smile. “Ah, yes, yes, I did! Unfortunately, we have enough singers at the moment.” He pats Zeb’s shoulders. “But your generous offer is greatly appreciated all the same. Truly!”
“Oh, okay,” Zeb says, sounding like a sad puppy. “Well, what about the songs I wrote? Would you consider using them for the annual Christmas concert?”
Gordy claps his hands excitedly. “Your songs, oh, they were splendid. It’s just that…” He pauses, looking for the best words to let Zeb down gently. “Everyone is expecting a certain amount of Christmas cheer from our musical selection. Now more than ever, given the recent tragedies, and I feel our classic carols will provide that.”
Zeb’s face falls. “I understand. Thank you for your consideration, Gordy. Perhaps next year.”
“Perhaps, yes!” Gordy cries. “Stay cheerful, Zeb!”
“Stay cheerful, Gordy…” Zeb says quietly. Once the older elf scampers away, my friend slumps down to his chair, a mixture of anger and frustration. We all exchange a worried look; this probably won’t end well. Oh what the heck? Might as well make the first move.
I reach over and pat Zeb’s arm. “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
He swiftly shakes me off. “Don’t you dare quote The Help to me right now. Don’t you dare.”
“What? I thought you loved that movie.”
He scowls. “Well, of course I do! It’s a masterpiece. It should have won every Oscar that year—but that’s not the point right now, Lucian.” He massages his temples. “The point is my soul hurts. And nobody will ever know how much it hurts.”
I hide a smirk.
Lily slaps my side before comforting Zeb. “Sweetie, don’t let that dampen your spirits. Everything happens for a reason. There’s always next year. I bet you’ll be in the front row of that choir then. Keep the faith, Zeb.”
Chance gives an agreeing nod. “Yeah, man. Chin up.”
But Zeb appears unwilling to let it go. He raises both hands in his dramatic fashion and closes his eyes. “I’m taking a vow of silence for the rest of the day. Does everyone hear me? Not…another…word.” He gestures like a zipper across his lips and pretends to throw away an invisible key over his shoulder.
A deafening explosion outside suddenly shakes our building and shatters a nearby window. The mighty blast knocks us to the ground and showers us with glittering pieces of glass. We lie for several moments in shock, out of breath, trembling, ears ringing, trying to process what just happened. I manage to gather myself and quickly reach for Lily, who’s on the floor beside me. “Are you okay?” I ask, frantic.
“Y-Yes,” she says, eyelids fluttering. “Just… dazed.”
Our group slowly sits up. There’s all sorts of anxious murmuring around us.
“Zeb? Chance? You good?” I ask.
Both nod in affirmation, much to relief.
Just then, the intercom buzzes and a robotic voice speaks. “Code Ice. Code Ice. All elves, please remain inside.” And with those simple words I understand exactly what’s going on—Jack Frost is in the village.
He’s come to destroy us.
Once and for all.
Thanks for having me. (Glances at cookies on table) Are those free?
Of course. Help yourself.
Just a nibble. (Grabs a handful and shoves an entire cookie into his mouth) It’s for my anxiety.
No worries. You’ve been through a lot recently, haven’t you?
So you’ve heard about my choir rejection? (inhales sharply) I’m still bitter about that. Very bitter. Our director is a moron. I can only assume that he is intimidated by my raw vocal powers. Either that or he doesn’t want me to outshine the rest of the choir. Which is understandable.
I was referring to the virus that’s killing elves in Santa’s Village.
I mean, that’s been difficult too.
Any idea who’s behind the virus?
We suspect it’s Jack Frost.
Why is that?
Well, he sort of bombed our village recently.
Wow. Safe to say it’s him then.
On the bright side, you have lots of guards protecting Santa’s Village.
You seen those Russians?
They’re pretty scary, huh?
(Nods and chuckles nervously)
Santa hired those thugs. Ugh. It’s like watching The Godfather but with Russian dubbing. Us worker elves stay away from them. They’re not exactly social. But I guess that’s the kind of security we need to deal with a psychopath like Jack Frost.
How long have you worked here?
A couple of years. I couldn’t afford college and I didn’t get any scholarships so I applied for work here. Had I known what would happen…I might have stuck to flipping burgers. No elf-killing viruses at McDonald’s. And their chicken nuggets are dope.
And how’s your roommate doing? I understand he couldn’t make it today.
Yes, he sends his apologies. Lucian’s just been through a lot. Way more than me. He lost both his parents three months ago.
Oh my goodness. I’m so sorry to hear that. Was it due to the virus?
That’s right. All because of Jack Frost. But he’s not going to get away with this. We’re going to catch him, and when we do, he’s going to pay.
Let’s hope that day arrives soon. Well, thank you for spending time with us today, Zeb. Is there anything else you’d like to say before we end this interview?
Just one thing. Follow me on Twitter. @Zebdropsitlikeitshot
Max Dune is a Southern writer who spent most his childhood watching TV, devouring comic books and weaving magical worlds in his head. In his mid-twenties, he decided to follow his true passion. He has since created a number of short stories, novels, screenplays and TV pilots. To be alerted to future books and giveaways, please sign up for his newsletter at http://eepurl.com/b5Is91